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Location

Leon to Santiago

Difficulty

4

Moderate

Length

19

Trip Cost

from $2590
twin share

Overview

  • Follow in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims and over 1,000 years of history on the world’s greatest historical trail
  • Walk the final 300km of the Camino Trail
  • Santiago – finish in this historic city and visit the final end point of your walk at the Cathedral
  • Self-guided trip allows you to set your own pace while we look after your accommodation and luggage transfers
  • Dedicated local support person in Spain for reassurance

Starting from the lively city of Leon with its magnificent Gothic Cathedral this walk will give you a great experience of the Camino as it takes in a good variety of historical towns and cities plus beautiful villages, many places of interest and some of the most scenic parts of the Camino trail as you travel through the mountains.

You’ll visit Astorga, a charming city which is home to a palace designed by Gaudi and is home to Spain’s chocolatiers. Other notable places include Ponferrada with its Knight’s Templar castle, the Iron Cross, the hilltop hamlet of O’Cebreiro, the pretty towns of Molinseca and Villafranca Del Bierzo – often rated amongst travellers as their favourites – Samos with its magnificent Benedictine monastery, Sarria, and of course Santiago itself the finish to your walk.

There are two ranges to climb as you leave the province of Leon and reach Galicia and the although the walking is more demanding through these sections the rewards are fantastic scenery and a real sense of accomplishment.

RAW Travel also offer tailor-made arrangements and can adapt this itinerary to suit your needs – just ask us about this and we can advise on how to best vary the itinerary to suit your needs. Please note that tailor-made arrangements incur higher costs due to the extra work involved.

Extend Your Holiday – City Breaks

Double your holiday experience by including a stopover on your journey! A city break is a great way to explore another place, indulge in some extra shopping, dining or sightseeing and is a great way to break up a long flight. Our fabulous array of RAW Travel city breaks can be tailor made to your requirements and usually include an arrival transfer, 2 nights accommodation and a city sightseeing tour.

Read more about our city breaks.

Are you a first-time or solo traveller?

We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Leon

Arrive anytime on this day.

Day 2: Free day in Leon

A free day for you in Leon to settle into Spain and to prepare for the journey ahead. You may wish to explore this beautiful city and its incredible Gothic Cathedral which is renowned for its marvelous stained glass windows. The streets of Leon come alive in the evenings when people parade the streets and its bodegas are overflowing with people.

Meals: B

Day 3: Transfer to Hospital de Orbigo & Walk to Astorga (17km)

To avoid the built up areas and clear the city limits we transfer you to Hospital de Orbigo to start your walk. Many pilgrims chose to do this as it can take some time to clear the city limits of Leon.

From Hospital de Orbigo you have a relatively flatish walk through towns such as Santibanez de Valdeiglesias and San Justo de la Vega on route to your destination of Astorga.

Meals: B

Day 4: Walk Astorga to Rabanal del Camino (21km)

Leaving behind Astorga you will be walking on pleasant paths across plains and with good views of the hills before you. This next section of the Camino de Santiago journeys through to Ponferrada and passes through the area known as La Margateria and then enters the Bierzo region with its mines and bordering Galicia. The La Margateria area has very few villages and we recommend you always carry enough food and water for emergencies. Make sure you carry warm clothing even in the height of summer with you as you will be walking into high mountains.

The path runs parallel to the road to Murias de Rechivaldo then to Santa Catalina de Somoza. Soon after the path begins to climb again up to El Ganso which sits 1,020 metres above sea level.

The Camino continues through El Ganso, down a track and runs parallel to the road. Here it passes an old oak tree known as El Roble del Peregrino where many a pilgrim have rested in the shade of its canopy. As you walk along the path towards Rabanal del Camino (1155m) you pass the remains of the Roman gold mines of La Fucarona.

Meals: B

Day 5: Walk Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca (26km)

As you leave Rabanal del Camino you’ll start to feel the incline which steepens as you head into the hills towards Foncebadon (the infamous deserted village which is no longer deserted). The incline is always walkable and there are plenty of switchbacks with great views back over the plains behind you. At the top of the hill is the Iron Cross, “Cruz Ferro”, an ancient monument said to be erected by the Celts and where pilgrims leave something, usually a stone or pebble that represents their burden or a memorial to a loved one.

Passing over a few more hilly sections you will reach your highest point at Collado de las Antenas (1515m), from here it is a steep downhill to Molinaseca (610m)

Meals: B

Day 6: Walk Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo (31km)

Leaving Molinaseca you firstly descend before climbing again towards the city of Ponferrada which can be clearly seen in the distance. Once in the city of Ponferrada, continue past the castle of the Knights Templar, make sure you enjoy a quick coffee in the plaza to admire the hills you’ve just climbed. After Ponferrada, the walk continues through gentle rolling hills and vineyards before reaching the charming town of Villafranca del Bierzo which is nestled in the hills that mark the border into Galicia. Both Molinaseca or Villafranca del Bierzo are great places to consider an additional rest day.

Meals: B

Day 7: Rest day in Villafranca del Bierzo

Rest up and relax, or further explore this town.

Meals: B

Day 8: Walk Villafranca del Bierzo to Herrerias (21km)

Walk down Calle del Agua and at the far end turn left at the statue of the pilgrim. Walk across the Río Burbía, past the convent and Iglesia de la Concepcion and keep walking until you reach the exit of the road tunnel through the mountains. Cross over and take a right turn, walk another 3 kilometres before turning right into an older section of the NVI road just before you enter the village of Pereje. Walk down the Calle Camino de Santiago until you reach where the motorway crosses the NVI, turn right onto the main road and follow this road until you reach the village of Herrerias.

Meals: B

Day 9: Walk Herrerias to O Cebreiro (10km)

The Camino from this point onwards climbs through the mountains starting gently but progressively getting steeper until you reach the atmospheric hilltop hamlet of O Cebreiro. From Herrerias you drop into the valley taking a quieter road and then ascend through deep woodland to the village of La Faba. The path continues through the village to Laguna de Castilla and onto the delightful hilltop hamlet of O’Cebreiro.

Meals: B

Day 10: Walk O Cebreiro to Triacastela (21km)

From O Cebreiro you start out on the main road or a rough track next to the road. Climb steeply for a kilometre to the Alto de San Roque, where on a clear day you will get wonderful views across the mountains and into Galicia. The path continues to climb to the small village of Hospital da Condesa, then a lane and track take you on to the small town of Padornelo. Once through the village the track begins to climb steeply towards the Alto do Poio some 3 kilometres away and on a track parallel to the road and into the village of Fonfría. From here is it downhill all the way to the town of Triacastela.

Meals: B

Day 11: Walk Triacastela to Sarria (19km)

As you leave Triacastela you arrive at a T-junction where you are given a choice of 2 routes towards Sarria. The left hand route takes you to past the impressive monastery of Benedictine Monasterio de San Julián de Samos in Samos about 11 kilometres away, the right hand route guides you through a more rural path towards San Xil before meeting the Samos route a few kilometres before Sarria. Both routes are clearly marked.

Sarria has been inhabited for many thousands of years both by the Celts and the Romans but the town was founded at the end of the 12th century by Alfonso IX, the last king of León who named the village Vilanova de Sarria.

Meals: B

Day 12: Rest Day in Sarria

Sarria is a busy, modern town with plenty of shops, hotels, restaurants and bars, but its origins are Celtic and it was an important and major medieval centre for pilgrims. Remnants of its ancient past can still be seen in the old quarter along Rua Major. The church of Igrexia de Santa Maria has an ancient pilgrim’s mural. If you follow the Camino route to the top end of town you will see the ancient convent Monasterio da Madalena, the ruins of the Castle and the medieval bridge Ponte Aspera that crosses the River Celerio. Nowadays the town is bustling with peregrinos, from those that started their Camino 100’s of kilometers back, to the large number that walk the final 100 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela to qualify for their Compostela.

Meals: B

Day 13: Walk Sarria to Portomarin (22km)

The majority of the this walk is on sheltered woodland pathways or quiet country roads and passes through many hamlets and small villages. The scenery along the way is wonderfully green and lush and very rural. The trail climbs and falls repeatedly as it passes tiny hamlets full of history. In the final section is the high point of the day (660m) at Pina dos Corvos which has wonderful views over the reservoir and surrounding countryside. From here begin your steep descent, crossing the Mino Reservoir over its modern bridge into Portomarin.

Portomarin has been inhabited for thousands of years and its importance grew with the popularity of the Camino in the middle ages. At one time it had three orders of Knights: the Knights Templar, the Knights of St John and the Knights of Jerusalem, which may go some way to explaining the castle like edifice of the 12th century Romanesque Igelsia San Nicolas church which still stands in the square at the centre of town. The town was previously divided by the Rio Mino but was flooded in 1960 to create the Mino Reservoir. Every historic monument was moved brick by brick to the town that stands on the hill today; you can see pictures of the old town in some of the bars and cafes that line the main street.

Meals: B

Day 14: Walk Portomarin to Palas de Rei (25km)

Today’s walk is uphill for 15 km, however the gradient is never too steep and you gradually climb to a height of 720m. The path crosses and runs parallel to the main road to Gonzar, though you spend most of your days walking on woodland tracks and quiet roads. From Sierra Ligonde, today’s high point at 720m, the walk is now downhill to Ligonde and Eirexe and onto A Calzada. There is a detour here of 2 km to the National Monument, Vilar de Donas where the Knights of Santiago are buried and is worthy of a visit if you have time. A gentle climb now takes you through several small hamlets to Alto Rosario, a good vantage point on a clear day and then down into Palas de Rei.

Palas de Rei or Palace of the King has little to remind you that it was once home to a king. Today it is a small country town with plenty of services available.

Meals: B

Day 15: Walk Palas de Rei to Arzua (29km)

Today’s walk is mostly on paths through quiet woodland, crossing over the main road to Arzua several times and guiding you through six river valleys to reach a high point of 515m at Coto.

On route you will pass Melide, a busy town founded in the 13th century and has many historic buildings and churches including the Capilla de San Pedro and San Roque next to which stands a 14th century stone cross said to be the oldest in Galicia. The museum and the buildings around the Plaza de Convento are well worth a visit. Melide is also famous for Pulpo Gallego, octopus cooked Galician style and reputed to be the best in Spain.

Much of the path after Melide winds through woodlands of oak, pine and eucalypt, passing over several valleys though Boente, Castañeda and then Ribadiso from where you can see the Hospital San Anton, one of the oldest pilgrim hospitals in existence. From Ribadiso follow the country road on a steep uphill climb and through the outer suburbs before entering Arzua.

Arzua with a population of around 7000 is the last large town before you reach Santiago. The 14th century Capilla de la Magdelena is the town’s main monument. Arzua is most famous for its local cheese, Queixo, a smooth creamy cheese made from cow’s milk which most restaurants feature in some way and is definitely worth trying. The town also celebrates its cheese with a Queixo Cheese festival every March.

Meals: B

Day 16: Walk Arzua to O Pedrouzo (19km)

The majority of today’s walk to O Pedrouzo is through wonderful pine and eucalyptus scented woodland. The path is mostly level, passing through three shallow river valleys with a gradual climb up to Alto de Santa Irene at 404m. The country lanes and woodland paths pass through many small hamlets. The final section climbs steeply to a main road, into eucalyptus woodland and onto A Rua and the village to O Pedrouzo. O Pedrouzo /Arco do Pino is a small but busy town with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars and the staging point for the last section of the Camino before entering Santiago de Compostela.

Meals: B

Day 17: Walk O Pedrouzo to Santiago (20km)

Today’s route will be a busy as pilgrims begin the last stage of their walk into Santiago. The pilgrims mass at Santiago Cathedral begins at midday so you will need to leave early to arrive on time. The first section of today’s route passes through eucalypt forests with most of the route on quiet roads and pathways before the final kilometres and a climb to Mount Gozo before descending into the suburbs of Santiago. The path runs alongside the airport and you will see many crosses of twigs and branches used by pilgrims to decorate the fence.

Lavacolla village is where pilgrims traditionally washed to purify themselves before entering Santiago and Lavacolla literally means to wash your tail. At Monte Gozo, Mount of Joy, you will first sight the stunning Catedral de Santiago spires.

The final section is well signposted into the old quarter with its wonderful historical buildings and narrow shop filled alleyways, until you finally reach the Praza Obradoiro and the wonderful ancient Cathedral.

Meals: B

Day 18: Free Day in Santiago

Today you have the whole day to enjoy and explore historic Santiago with its many enticing tapas bars and restaurants. You can attend the midday pilgrims mass and look around the famous Cathedral of St James which forms the city’s heart and watch the steady stream of pilgrims arriving into the square as they finish their epic journey.

Meals: B

Day 19: Departure Santiago

You are free to check out of your hotel any time before 10am. If you would like to explore Santiago further you are able to leave your bags with reception.

Meals: B

Dates

Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing. As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.

Note that if booking for a start date of less than 30 days from the time of booking we cannot guarantee that your trip is possible unless you have contacted us first and your trip details have been confirmed.

Inclusions

  • 18 nights excellent accommodation including historic hotels and character country houses.
  • Private en suite rooms on a twin share basis
  • Daily breakfast
  • Luggage transfer each day from hotel to hotel (1 x 15kg bag per person)
  • Private transfer from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo (Day 3)
  • Full Camino guidebook with maps (one book per two people in twin/double share)
  • Pilgrim’s passport per person
  • Spanish phrase book (one book per two people in twin/double share)
  • Document case
  • Daily luggage tags
  • Maps of your hotel locations
  • Local and Australian emergency contact numbers
  • Pre-trip Camino guidance and planning
  • Dedicated local support person in Spain for reassurance

Not Included

  • Single supplement $900 extra
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights to/from Spain

Options/Add Ons

For an extra indulgence, upgrade your hotel in Santiago to a Parador for only $120 per person/per night twin share, when booked 6 months in advance (subject to availability).

For an unforgettable birds-eye view of the city and the cathedral interior, add the Rooftop Cathedral Tour for $25 per person.

Single supplement $900 extra

For any part of your trip that falls before 15 March or after 31 October there is an out of season luggage transfer surcharge cost of $30 per day.

Map & Guide

Reviews

Margaret Borucinski, Newcastle (NSW) – September 2018
I especially liked the simplicity of the daily routine of walking and leaving behind outside cares. I felt like a modern-day pilgrim and my walking offered me the chance to slow down from my everyday life back home.

Ellice Brown, Wollongong (NSW) – September 2018
I have just finished 26 days walking the Camino from Leon to Santiago and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. Lovely scenery, friendly locals, interesting co-walkers. As well as the sense of accomplishment in completing a life-long ambition. The accommodation was excellent. No hiccups with any of the transfer arrangements. Every day was a surprise. It could have been the lovely scenery, a box of fruit by the roadside for pilgrims to help themselves or an evening mass in a village church.

Margaret Merrett, Carina (QLD) – September 2018
What a wonderful Camino journey I experienced, all due to you. Everything worked like clockwork. The accommodation and maps just helped me so much. The best place to stay was the farmhouse in Arzua, food and room exceptional. I was accepted as me, a fellow pilgrim, not where I live, not my education, not how big my house is or what car I drive. I met the most wonderful people, and still keep in touch. I would say to any solo traveller, this is the best experience ever – go out there, meet new people, find your confidence. Big thank you once again. I will be using RAW again and have been singing your praises to every Australian I meet. Daniela Porta, Mordialloc (VIC) – August 2018 Leon to Santiago I loved walking through rural Spain, the views, the food and people you meet along the way enrich the whole experience. Every day brought something new and exciting. I looked forward to reaching my accommodation every evening and was treated like a VIP. The staff were very helpful with recommendations for restaurants, assisted with booking massages and shows (in Madrid).

Suezette Clift, Binningup (WA) – September 2018
Walking a country is the best way to see it and connect with the people.

Francisca Bonilla, Avondale Heights (VIC) – September 2018
Incredible experience. The accommodation was great. My husband and I were very happy with the whole trip.

James Adamson, Glen Iris (VIC) – September 2018
Everything went very smoothly. The accommodations were all wonderful and the bag I sent forward each day always arrived where it needed to and on time. In hindsight I would probably have dropped some of the rest days, particularly the day in Sarria which was one of the less interesting places on the route.

Daniela Porta, Mordialloc (VIC) – August 2018
I loved walking through rural Spain, the views, the food and people you meet along the way enrich the whole experience. Every day brought something new and exciting. I looked forward to reaching my accommodation every evening and was treated like a VIP. The staff were very helpful with recommendations for restaurants, assisted with booking massages and shows (in Madrid).

Alison Jennings, Melville (WA) – June 2018
I loved the attention to detail, the selection of hotels, and the professionalism and friendliness of all those associated with the tour, particularly Germán, our local contact. I had an amazing Camino experience. I found the pre-trip advice very helpful in my planning. I loved every moment and I would certainly recommend RAW Travel to others.

Mary Lopez, Milsons Point (NSW) – April 2018
Thank you for the professional and sensitive attention to my particular requirements for my itinerary and the incredible support I received when faced with tragic circumstances requiring a possible return to Australia while on the Camino.

Linda Meyers, West Hobart (TAS) – October 2017
Mel was very available for questions as our plans for travel became more definite. The accommodation was exceptional! From the Parador in Santiago to the lovely, rural farmhouses and everything in between. My friend and I loved the local cuisine, meeting new pilgrim friends along the way, and the contemplative walking in the beautiful countryside of Spain. Thank you for such a great travel experience!

Judith Rourke, Finley (NSW) – September 2017
I loved that I didn’t have to worry about accommodation and luggage transfers. The accommodation was excellent, which was a relief after a long hot day of walking. All up it was a great experience!

Anthony Wood, Beeliar, WA – May 2017
Once again we had another successful walk thanks to the professionalism and organisational ability of the RAW Travel Camino staff. We had no issues with any aspect of our walk, accommodation, luggage transfer etc. Do you have any control over the weather though, Mel?

Karen Costa, Bellbrae, VIC – May 2017
To all at RAW, our group of ladies has completed our Camino journey, which we started in Leon. An amazing experience! We are now enjoying The Paradore in Santiago, resting our weary legs. All transfers and accommodation were streamlined. Thank you.

Gregory Johnson, Sydney – September 2016
Enjoyed the whole experience. Meeting fellow travellers, taking in the local culture and generally the beautiful countryside plus towns and cities. Especially enjoyed Burgos, Leon and Santiago.

Kay Ngaire Smith, Auckland NZ – September 2016
I was apprehensive, aged 73 and travelling alone. Met with RAW Travel and immediately had my questions answered. I was not let down.

Nella Truscott – September 2015
For me this trip was awesome. The physical difficulty was as expected. The people we meet along the Camino walk and the encouragement we all gave each other was a highlight. The scenery in the countryside was also a highlight. Thank you for all your hard work RAW Travel.

Janis Wright – May 2015
We had a great experience and we managed very well. We had no rain at all and very good weather. The flowers and wildlife as we walked on from Leon were a great distraction. Thank you to everyone at RAW Travel for everything you did and fitting my sister in at short notice. We had a great trip and would use RAW Travel again.

What our Clients Say

We loved the local cuisine, meeting new pilgrim friends along the way, and the contemplative walking in the beautiful countryside of Spain. Thank you for such a great travel experience!

Linda Meyers, West Hobart (TAS) - October 2017

I was apprehensive. Aged 73 and travelling alone. Met with RAW Travel and immediately had my questions answered. I was not let down.

Kay Ngaire Smith, NZ - Sep 2016

For me this trip was awesome. The physical difficulty was as expected. The people you meet along the Camino walk and the encouragement we all gave each other was a highlight. The scenery in the countryside was also a highlight. Thank you for all your hard work Raw Travel.

Nella Truscott - September 2015

We had a great experience and managed very well. The flowers and wildlife as you walked on from Leon were a great distraction. Thank you to everyone at Raw Travel for everything you did and fitting my sister in at short notice. We had a great trip and would use Raw Travel again.

Janis Wright - May 2015

To all at RAW, our group of ladies has completed our Camino journey, which we started in Leon. An amazing experience! We are now enjoying The Paradore in Santiago, resting our weary legs.

Karen Costa, Bellbrae, VIC - May 2017

Once again we had another successful walk thanks to the professionalism and organisational ability of the RAW Travel Camino staff.

Anthony Wood, Beeliar, WA - May 2017

I loved that I didn't have to worry about accommodation and luggage transfers. All up it was a great experience!

Judith Rourke, Finley (NSW) - September 2017

I loved the attention to detail, the selection of hotels, and the professionalism and friendliness of all those associated with the tour.

Alison Jennings, Melville (WA) – June 2018

I especially liked the simplicity of the daily routine of walking and leaving behind outside cares. I felt like a modern-day pilgrim and my walking offered me the chance to slow down from my everyday life back home.

Margaret Borucinski, Newcastle (NSW) – September 2018

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Trip Expert

Trip Grading

This trip is rated as Moderate